Discussion: How My Reading Tastes Have Changed Over the Years
If you follow my blog, you’ve probably noticed that I have pretty eclectic tastes when it comes to the books I read. A quick scan of my review archives will show that I’m a big fan of fantasies, science fiction, mysteries and thrillers, historical fiction, and retellings, just to name a few. I haven’t always had such varied tastes in books, however, which got me thinking about just how much my taste in books has changed over the years.
I think my taste in books really started to evolve and grow once I started buying my own books. When I was a kid, my parents bought my books so they decided what I read and when I was in high school and college, my reading choices were mostly determined by what was on the course syllabus. Needless to say, I was fully immersed in classics during most of those years. Don’t get me wrong though. I adored most of the classics I read and when it was time for me to take control of my book buying and actually read for pleasure rather than required reading, I still stuck with the classics for a number of years. I fell in love with Pride and Prejudice when I studied it in college, so I felt compelled to then go on to read all of the rest of Austen’s novels on my own. I did the same with countless other classic authors – Dickens, Hawthorne, the Bronte sisters, Hardy, Shakespeare…you get the idea.
After a while though, I started to get a little bored with the classics. They started to feel so dated and I really wanted something more modern. That was when I entered my Chick Lit phase. For a few months, I couldn’t get enough of books like The Devil Wears Prada, The Nanny Diaries, and Bridget Jones’s Diary. I think that phase directly coincided with me moving out of my mom’s house and getting an apartment of my own. I identified with the characters in those books so much at first, but I got burned out on that kind of Chick Lit pretty quickly. Maybe they started to remind me too much of my real life, I don’t know lol, but I bailed and moved on to Fantasy novels.
Fantasy and science fiction novels were the ultimate escape from reality for me and unlike the Chick Lit, which I maintain was just a phase, fantasy and sci fi remain some of my favorite types of reads today. I actually started my fantasy reading by re-reading a favorite childhood series of mine, the Chronicles of Narnia, and then I moved on to The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and eventually to Harry Potter. The Martian was probably the first book that really made me interested in sci fi.
I have to admit that I mainly picked up Harry Potter to see what all of the fuss was about. I was teaching high school English at the time and many of my students were walking around with Harry Potter books in their backpacks. Getting students excited about reading is always so challenging so I just had to know what it was about those books that had them all so captivated. Like my students, I immediately became hooked on the series and then began to explore more YA books because I realized that I was missing out on some pretty amazing reads. Before becoming hooked on Harry Potter, I had lived with this notion that I was too old to read books like that. Once I entered the “Screw it, I’m a grown ass woman and I’m going to read whatever the hell I want to read” phase, however, it felt like a whole new world was opened up to me. Again, a quick glance through my review archives will show that not only do I read a lot of YA books now, but they are often some of my highest rated reviews.
Novels like The Nightingale and The Light Between Oceans introduced me to historical fiction, which quickly became another love of mine. I was initially drawn to novels set around WWII, but now I find myself looking for novels that focus on periods in history that I’m less familiar with. In some ways the historical fiction calls to me because I find it similar in style and theme to some of my favorite classics but yet most of what I read focuses on 20th century historical events so they don’t feel quite as dated as the classics do.
I then felt the need for a little excitement and mystery in my life, so I delved into the world of mysteries and psychological thrillers. Oh yeah, as much as I complain about them now, I was totally on board with the Gone Girl/The Girl on the Train trend. Even though I grew tired of the unreliable/unlikeable narrator trend that those books ushered in, I remain a huge fan of psychological thrillers in general. Ruth Ware is a new favorite of mine, and I also love Meg Gardiner’s UNSUB series.
Spring boarding off those thrillers, I have also most recently started to get into what I would call domestic dramas. Books like Big Little Lies have been grabbing my attention, the ones that focus on neighborhoods and the idea that everyone is hiding something and no one’s lives are as perfect as they would have you believe. This type of story seems to be the latest trend in fiction, and I’m hoping it sticks around for a while because I truly can’t get enough of books like this.
Another trend that I fell in love with and can’t get enough of are retellings. My love for retellings started with Marissa Meyer. I adored The Lunar Chronicles and her Queen of Hearts retelling, Heartless.
I try to imagine what it would have been like to run into me at a bookstore 20 years ago versus today. In both scenarios, my arms would have been loaded down with books. The main difference is that while back then, my book haul would have been classics, classics, and more classics. Today, anything is fair game to end up in that book haul.
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How have your reading tastes changed over the years?
I don’t think I would have picked up retellings had I not experimented with YA. I adore Katherine Arden and Naomi Novik! I’ll be checking out Marissa Meyer when I get the chance.
Classics feel like home to me so I always return to them during a slump or when I need a pick me up but now I’m trying to up the number of classics I’m reading in a year.
I loved reading about how your tastes have changed! Crime fiction is one I’m falling into right now!
Oh yay, Katherine Arden has become one of my favorites too. I actually just purchased my first Naomi Novik a few weeks ago and look forward to reading it.
My reading likes and dislike have changed over the years. I am more picky with what I pick up to read anymore. Right now I am on a romance kick whereas I would normally just pick up just about anything to read. Especially thrillers and that types of reads. 🙂
I read more types of books overall, but I do think I’ve gotten pickier as well.
I think we had a pretty similar evolution in reading tastes. I read a lot of classics in high school, both required and not required. I wanted to finish this list of like 100 classic books I had found! After college I found chick lit and historical fiction, and since then I’ve branched out into YA, thrillers, nonfiction… pretty much anything these days! I never wanted to get into the hype of Harry Potter and when people were going crazy over the last couple books, I was already in college, so I felt too old as well. But then someone recommended it to me, and I’m so glad I read the books!
Our journey is definitely similar. Nonfiction is the one area that I’ve not gotten into much yet, but every time I read one of your nonfiction reviews, I get more and more interested in heading down that path.
This is so cool. I hated reading when I was a kid and refused to do it. I got into reading when I was a preteen and mostly read sci-fi, horror, and survival stories. Then I went through a few years where I pretty much only read classics. I got into YA when I was in college. Now I’ll read pretty much anything.
That’s so cool that you transformed from a non-reader to actually running your own book blog 🙂
Oh yes my reading tastes have totally changed. I have gone through many phases but I think right now I am settled into an eclectic mix like you. I like reading a varied group of books mostly in women’s fiction, mystery/thrillers, YA contemporaries , memoirs with the occasional fantasy and scifi.
I’ve been interested in exploring more women’s fiction, especially after reading my first Gayle Forman and Emily Giffin books this year.
I love how your reading is so inclusive. Maybe not all at the same time but definitely over the years you’ve covered a lot of genres. I’ve had phases over the years – mystery/thrillers, historical romance, etc – but contemporaries have always been a mainstay. I tend to want my stories rooted in reality (I very rarely reach for fantasy) and usually in the here and now.
I’m starting to enjoy contemporaries more and more lately so I can definitely understand why you like them so much. They definitely tend to be more the most relatable books I read.
I love that we have so many choices these days. Publishing has really changed over the years, for the better! Even though my blog is very spec fic focused, I really miss things like chick lit, romance and literary fiction, which I used to read a ton on before I started blogging.
There really is tremendous variety out there. The possibilities seem endless whenever I visit the library or the bookstore 🙂
This is such an awesome post, Suzanne! I’ve only been an avid reader for a couple of reads now, so my reading tastes have only shifted slightly–I started with YA, and still love YA! The only difference is my favorite genre used to be sci-fi/dystopia, since I loved how some stories featured settings that seemed plausible, but are still a bit out of reach. But now I ADORE fantasies, because I’ve been needing an even bigger escape from the pressures of real life as I grow older!
I hear you on needing an escape from reality!
It’s so interesting to go through your life and look at the way your reading tastes evolved. It is a cool thing for anyone to do because I’m guessing that everyone has had their preferences change over the years even if it is to a small degree. Thanks for this! I really enjoyed reading about your reading evolution. 😃
You’re welcome! Thanks for stopping by 🙂
It’s always interesting to see how people’s reading tastes have changed! My chick lit phase was during middle and high school, so it was YA chick lit, but that genre doesn’t suit my taste anymore either. Nowadays I only read fantasy and sci-fi. Your taste really is varied though, that’s awesome! It means you get to enjoy all sorts of books!
Yeah, I was obsessed with chick lit for a few months and then was over it and have never felt the urge to go back.
You’re a great diverse reader. Me, not so much. As a kid I read a lot of classics and SFF books, and I also went through this high brow period. Now, I have reverted to those books I enjoyed as a teen. I just need a lot of fluff to get through the day.
Fluff is the best!
What a fascinating article! I love how you have evolved into reading more and more widely. By contrast, I have narrowed my reading, I think. I was far more widely read when I was younger – but would toil through books I didn’t like. And yet, these days I never read anything I don’t like.
I’ve definitely gotten much better about quitting books that aren’t working for me.
Like you I have an eclectic taste when it comes to books. I go through phases where I devour one or more genres with a scattering of others in-between.
That seems to be the way I rotate through all of the different types of books I like. A few fantasies, then a few thrillers, a few YA contemporaries, etc..
I can totally relate to this. I’ve always been a fantasy/ SF reader growing up, although I liked mysteries too- I read all the Hardy Boys and most of the Nancy Drew stuff, but as an adult and even more recently a a blogger I’ve found myself branching into thrillers, cozies, historical fiction, urban fantasy… I love the variety now. The historical fiction I really enjoy is the Victorian and Edwardian era stuff, I’m just fascinated with all that. Although I read more of it a couple years ago than I am now. Lately I seem to be into the psychological thrillers and YA stuff. It comes and goes!
And yes what is up with these domestic dramas? Big Little Lies really captured my attention because it seemed to look at life underneath the act everyone puts on, and I’m kinda fascinated with those now too- even as I hope they’re not TOO realistic lol.
There really is so much variety out there. Sometimes going to the bookstore, it’s impossible to even decide because there are just so many choices.
Ha! I hear you on the domestic dramas. I have to admit that they sometimes have me giving my neighbors the side-eye wondering what kind of secrets they’re keeping, lol.
Wow! My reading preferences keep changing too. I was also in classics. But as after some years gap, I have discovered that my reading taste has changed too. Now i enjoy books on arts and photography as much as i love thrillers.
I haven’t read one in a while but I enjoy photography books as well 🙂
I have read one book on brush pens in June and reviewed it and I am currently reading another on Calligraphy. Looks like I discovered some great books through Netgalley which I wouldn’t have otherwise.
Netgalley is great for that 🙂
Yup my tastes have changed too. When I was younger I would read a lot of second world war children books and such (though I was also just really depending on what our small town library had). I don’t like to read about the second world war now and prefer to hide away in fantasy haha.
I love to hide in fantasy too!
Hmmm… I don’t know if they really have changed. I’m reading less nonfiction this year, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t like it.
I am using Goodreads a lot more to find books though. I definitely think that (and all the book blogs I’ve been reading lately) helps you find a lot more books to look into.
Right? I’ve gotten most of my best book recs from reading other blogs. They’ve put so many books on my radar that I probably would have overlooked otherwise.
What a thoughtful post! My reading tastes have changed over the years, and while I think a lot of it has to do with age, I also think it has to do with the way genre trends have changed. For example, I’m a huge romance fan, but the billionaire hero does not speak to me, and when the genre seemed to be largely centered on that, I started branching out.
I have always enjoyed Chick Lit, but I find I can’t read them close together. They’re almost like a palate cleanser for me when I’m feeling burnt out on reading or a particular genre. I know I can count on them for a good time, so I pick them up when I’m desperate.
I also enjoy Historical Fiction, but that’s another genre I can’t read too close together. The books usually leave me in tears, and I find I have to work myself up to picking one up knowing I’m in for an emotional ride!
This was a great post! Thanks for sharing.
I’m the exact same way when it comes to Historical Fiction, especially since I tend to read a lot of WWII fiction. They tend to leave me emotionally drained so I never read more than one too close together and usually reach for a fluffy contemporary afterwards to cheer me up, lol.
This is so awesome! My tastes have always been all over the place! Though now I am definitely more drawn to horror and thrillers.
Thrillers are becoming more and more of an interest for me as well!
Fun post! I feel like my taste in books has always been a bit eclectic, though there was a time where I read a lot of YA contemporary now that I don’t read as many of those unless it’s also LGBT+ or has some sort of mystery, etc. I was in an online book club in high school and that really allowed me to read all sorts of things that people my age weren’t reading.
That’s so cool that there was an online book club when you were in school. I wish something like that had been around when I was in school.
I know my tastes have changed over the years! I never wanted to read the classics we were made to read in high school… I don’t know if it was the books, or the fact that someone wanted to make me read something (I was anti-everything in high school). I remember being in the fourth grade when I discovered Harry Potter. I read the entire series as it came out, and also looked into other books that might have had similar stories. I don’t really remember getting back into reading until after high school when Twilight came out. A girl I was working with brought her books to work every day, and she lent them to me once she was finished. That got me started again, but I would only read YA. Now I’ve started reading a lot more romance! I still enjoy YA, because like you said… there are some really awesome YA books out there, and have recently become more interested in MG. My son is old enough to have books like Percy Jackson read to him, so I’ve been on the lookout for others he might find interesting. I also dabble in some suspense and science fiction every once in awhile, so I would definitely say I’ve grown over the years.
Lovely discussion post!
𑁋 Lindsi @ Do You Dog-ear?
I expect I’ll be revisiting some middle grade books as well now that my son is really starting to read a lot more. Percy Jackson is definitely on my list 🙂
This is such a wonderful post Suzanne, and it’s given me such nostalgia and made me think about my own tastes. Thank you < 3
Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed it 🙂
Another great post, and I totally get what you’re saying. I love that you read and recommend lots of different genres for us to check out. As a kid, I read a mixture of non-fiction, romance and crime stories. Then I moved into romance and stayed there for years and years. Then I moved to thrillers, dramas and spy stories, and nonfiction. I’m just so thrilled that there are so many authors and book blogs who keep me up to date. Hugs and Happy Sunday! RO
Happy Sunday to you too!
I loved this post! I don’t read a lot of classics on my own unless it’s for a class I take at the university I attend. This next semester I’m taking a class wholly dedicated to Jane Austen, so I’ll be reading Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, all of them! I’m actually trying to expand my reading this year. I’ve been reading young adult for years now, and I’m dipping my toe into some adult novels. Right now, I’ve been reading a TON of chicklit, but thrillers are starting to peak my interest as well.
Thrillers are definitely one of my recent interests as well. There are so many good ones out there!
I’ve gone through many reading phases as well. Fantasy has been a constant in my life. Outside of fantasy, I’ve gone through many phases. As a child, I loved any book in which an animal featured prominently. In middle school, I went through a historical fiction phase followed by Barnes and Noble classics. In high school, I started getting into medieval lit then young adult. Recently, I’ve started reading more high/epic fantasy, but I still read plenty of YA, especially YA fantasies.
I was a massive fan of animal books when I was a kid too 🙂
Interesting post on how reading tastes change throughout the years! It’s fun to look back on different books and times in our lives. I feel like different books I have read will remind me of those times in my life. Like I remember getting hooked on the Twilight series way back when it came out and I got all three of my co-workers to read them too and we’d chat it up at work about the whole Edward/Bella/vampire etc thing. We’d get together to go to the theater as the movies came out too lol. I don’t think I could make it past a few pages of the Twilight books today if I tried though. I’m past it.
I went though my chic-lit phase too, I enjoyed The Devil Wears Prada and Bridget Jones’s Diary also. And I went through a LOTR’s phase and read those starting with The Hobbit and was obsessed with the films.
Harry Potter was awesome to read too, those are classics. I also went through an Agatha Christie phase many years ago when my son was born, I’d get them from the library and read while he napped.
I’ve only read a couple of Agatha Christie’s books but want to read them all at some point. The ones I read were so good!
I love that you’re such an eclectic reader! My reading tastes have changed a little over the years, but I’ve definitely settled in the YA realm mostly, and I’m not sure if that will change much. We shall see!
The YA game is so strong right now that I can definitely understand staying in that realm. Most of my favorite reads from the past two years have been YA.